Like your dad’s jokes, Eugene McGuinness’ music is heavily influenced by the ’60s, by Bond films, by grainy TV shows featuring men wearing enormous black-rimmed glasses and a brown suit. But these aren’t the only themes of ‘The Invitation To The Voyage’, the exceptionally lively follow-up to 2009’s ‘Glue’.
It starts with ‘Harlequinade’ and ‘Sugarplum’, two bouncy electro-pop numbers that both reference pleasuring yourself (“masturbating virtuosos evacuate the venue”) and wolves (“I was raised by wild wolves/In the brutal wilderness”) like some kind of soundtrack to an After Hours Sexy Pet Rescue. Carnal frustrations die down on the frenetic ‘Lion’, by which time it’s clear that the 26-year-old Londoner has two aims. Firstly, to write some massive festival singalong anthems. Secondly, to write some ‘get on the dancefloor and go so mental your mates check you’re not about to swallow your tongue’ tunes. ‘Shotgun’, the ‘Peter Gunn’-sampling single falls into the latter camp, and is the best thing ever. It’ll make you feel like you’re actually James Bond, to the point of walking quickly along tube platforms and looking suspiciously at men in bowler hats.
The only problem with its amazingness is it exposes following track ‘Concrete Moon’ as being, er, not. Parp the obligatory slow song klaxon, because it’s a bass-backed ballad, people. It’s the sonic equivalent of going on a blind date with a Megan Fox lookalike who knows all the cool underground bars, buys all the drinks, then casually drops into conversation than she can’t come back to yours because her ex lives next door and he’s got a restraining order on her.
Thankfully the rest of the album picks right back up to spy-film-soundtrack levels. It’s all epic strings (‘Video Game’), soaring vocals (the title track) and trumpets so wobbly they sound like an orchestra of 11-year-olds is playing them (‘Thunderbolt’). The highlight is ‘Joshua’, a bromance anthem about admitting to your best buddy that you don’t tell him often enough that you love him. It’s sweet, like the conversation at 3.23am after swapping from beer to JD too early in the evening. You’re shitfaced, but you’ve had chips, so it’s OK.
So what can we learn from all of this? That it’s hard to do a retro-tinged record without making everyone think about Mike Myers’ version of the ’60s (Austin Powers, Liz Hurley, people who think saying “Do I make you horny?” is acceptable), but that Eugene’s gone and done it. And that E-McG, as almost certainly no-one calls him, needs to stick to what we like to call The Libertines Formula. Fast tracks = good, ballads = bad.
If he carries on like this, he’s going to be MASSIVE, capitals absolutely necessary.